The Traveling Wingshooters Checklist by Gary Adair
For those wishing to step outside the boundaries of their home state in search of other birding opportunities, the planning of such an outing can require an exhaustive amount of research. From game bird population status reports to whether or not the use of steel shot is required; the list of pertinent information literally runs the gamut. Fortunately our computers are available to alleviate most of this load, but what about those things that are needed to take on such a trip once the plans have been made? Here is a look at my so-called checklist.
When it comes to packing the right mix of clothing, the best advice I can give is to be prepared for the worst extremes that Mother Nature can dish out. Rain gear, thermal wear, extra socks (polypropylene) and boots can mean the difference between a miserable day in the field or one that is manageable. I’ve hunted high skies and 70-degree weather in North Dakota one day and blizzard like conditions the next. This year in Oregon a buddy and I left the town of Juntura with temperatures in the 60’s (we hunted in 80 degree temps the previous three days) only to find our selves driving through snow just an hour and a half later. It is much better to be safe then sorry, so be prepared and pack accordingly.
Lastly, don’t forget your casual clothes to wear when not hunting and take some blaze orange clothing as well, regardless if the state you intend to hunt requires it or not.
Although I have never had to rely on my second gun because of a breakdown or other mishap, it’s best to take a backup just in case. There are few things that could ruin a trip more than having the only gun you packed malfunction while in the field. Also, if someone you are hunting with has an unfortunate event with their [only] gun, you can step up and be the hero for the day.
When it comes to essential gear to take along for our four-legged hunting companions, first and foremost on the list should be a first aid kit. This is an invaluable asset, since many of the states I have hunted in the past have had veterinarian offices that were hours away. With only a little forethought and a well put-together medical kit (bandages, medical tape, EMT Gel, saline Solution etc.), a terrible tragedy could be avoided. Ask your vet if you’re unsure of what to include.
Another item not to be left behind is dog boots. Whether you are chasing Chukars and Huns over desert lava and rim-rock or pheasant and sharp-tailed grouse across sandspur and prickly-pear laden prairie, dog boots will keep your dogs feet protected. Take along a neoprene vest too, since conditions could very well dictate the need for one.
A few other odds and ends are forceps or tweezers (for pulling porcupine quills or cactus needles), enough dog food for the duration of the trip (you don’t want to be switching brands if the state you’re hunting in doesn’t carry your brand) and an up-to-date copy of your dog’s immunization record. Don’t forget a dog lead or food and water bowls either (One for in the field, too). Better yet, carry everything in a dog bag, so it is all together and less likely to be forgotten.
Miscellaneous items are those things most likely to be overlooked, but important nonetheless. For those wishing to preserve the memories of the hunt, don’t forget the camera, extra film and a tri-pod. A GPS can be rather handy, not only for keeping your bearings straight, but saving hotspots, as well. If you plan to bring some birds home for the freezer you’ll need a cooler, game shears and some zip-lock bags. And don’t forget paper towels, garbage bags or a nylon stocking for those birds you intend to have mounted.
For those traveling by air you will want to include ice packs (blue ice), since airlines will not allow regular ice onboard and dry ice can only be shipped in accepted quantities. One should also bring extra batteries, sunglasses, moleskin (for blisters) and health sundries (aspirin, lip balm, allergy medicine etc.) as these will more than likely be needed at some point during the trip.
Planning an out-of-state trip can appear overwhelming at first, but once things come together it is well worth the effort. Specially when you arrive at your destination and everything you will need is right there at your disposal.